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RealTime IT News

India Internet World Debuts

Internet experts from around the world gathered today in New Delhi to launch India's first edition of U.S.-based Mecklermedia Corp's Internet World series of conferences and trade shows.

"This national gathering of Indian and international experts is well-timed to address the needs of Internet professionals hoping to develop and harness the Internet market in India," said Pradeep Kar, Chairman and Managing Director of Bangalore-based networking solutions company Microland, in a panel discussion.

The India Internet World '98 conference, co-hosted by Microland, is being held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, August 25-28. It is billed as India's first conference exclusively focused on Internet/intranet business.

India has a handful of government ISPs, but an imminent privatisation of the ISP market is expected to boost the current user base from 500,000 online users to over a million next year.

"There already seems to be a lot of awareness and media attention regarding the Internet. The challenge is now to go beyond 'possible' or 'doable' Internet solutions to 'useable' and convenient solutions," said Tom Burns, Director of Intel's Asia Pacific Content Group.

T.R. Anand, General Manager for IBM Global Solutions (India), said that the growth of the Net in India would boost business potential, educational opportunities, and consumer choice. "The Internet explosion in India will have a multiplier effect on the entire economy," Anand said.

India built a worldwide reputation as a source of skilled information workers with a sound grounding in high technology. "But the challenge now for India is to go beyond technology solutions to business solutions," said Ian Hughes, Computer Associates' Country Manager for South Asia.

In addition to providing Indian companies with increased exposure to the global market, the Net is also expected to help them become more competitive and efficient.

"Technologies like the intranet can help Indian companies benchmark themselves against global information age companies, and transform them into learning organisations finely tuned to the needs of the customer," said Stacy Plemmons, Vice President for Enterprise Accounts Organisation at Hewlett-Packard.

Melanie Hills, well-known author of Web business strategies bestsellers like "Intranets as Groupware," said Indian companies who are just beginning to embark down the Internet path may actually have a bit of an advantage in learning from some of the mistakes that the early adopters may have made.

"For instance," she said, "some of the early adopters of the Net did not pay adequate attention to Web-enabling their back-end processes and integrating them with their Internet front-ends for e-commerce. Though some of them were taking orders through World Wide Web sites, they had to re-key this information for back-end systems, thus creating time lags and extra work in processing this valuable information."

"Today, a company can devise one comprehensive strategy encompassing intranets, extranets and the World Wide Web," Hills added.

As in other parts of the world, challenges still need to be addressed regarding e-commerce legislation, inter-state taxation, copyright protection and online payments, the speakers acknowledged.

The panelists are part of a high-powered line-up of speakers who will deliver 60 conference sessions in five parallel streams at India Internet World '98.